Andromeda is not a Cantata Dramatica commission. It was composed by Cyril Bradley Rootham in 1905 and performed in Bristol in 1908. Rootham (1875-1938) was a composer, conductor, teacher and college organist who was based at St John's College, Cambridge for most of his working life. Although a prolific composer in his own right, he also directed his efforts towards the revival of neglected works by established composers (Purcell, Mozart and Handel) and in the promotion of new music from contemporary composers (Vaughan Williams, Kodály, Honegger and Pizzetti). The text of Andromeda is taken from a poem by Charles Kingsley, author of ‘The Water Babies’, who was born 200 years ago in 1819. The original poem is written in antique epic style with long soliloquies and descriptive passages but Rootham condensed it into a fast moving dramatic cantata lasting a little under an hour.
Cantata Dramatica was approached in 2018 by the committee of the CK200 Festival to ask if they would be willing to put on a performance of Andromeda during the Festival Weekend on 14 and 15 June 2019. The original brief was to involve a chorus of 100 singers and Rootham’s full orchestration but it became clear that this approach would not be practical for an outdoor performance so a more creative solution had to be found.
With support from the CK200 Festival, advice from Professor David Owen Norris at Southampton University, and the approval of Dan Rootham (Cyril’s grandson), Cantata Dramatica commissioned a new chamber orchestration from young composer Dan Keen. This will be premiered at the Festival on 14 June. The vocal score of Andromeda was published by London Music Press in 2019 and they will publish the full score and the new orchestration in due course.
In addition to the new orchestration, Cantata Dramatica is collaborating with Peter Ormrod, Creative Director of the CK200 Festival, to introduce a number of highly creative visual aspects to the performance. These include a monster puppet, aerial artists (one of whom is Baritone soloist, David Jones, who is currently learning to fly), and dancers from Middlesex University, with choreographer Sian Hopkins. Tickets are available from the CK200 Festival website.